Is Second-hand Smart Home Technology Compromising Your Safety?

Smart Home tech is on the rise.  127 million smart home units are expected to be sold in the US alone in 2018, with the global smart home market expected to be worth 53.45 billion USD by 2022.

Of course, tech lovers often want to upgrade to the latest version – and sell their used devices through the local classifieds.

However, with 55% of smart device owners in the dark about how they actually work, could those who bought second-hand smart home devices be welcoming a threat to their families into their homes?

Amazon Echo – A wiretap waiting to happen?

Internet security experts vpnMentor set out to highlight just how simple it is for your home to be targeted by malicious hackers – so they utilised a team of ethical hackers to uncover the most hackable smart home devices including the first-generation Amazon Echo, a Samsung Smart Camera and the first-generation Ring Smart Doorbell.

vpnMentor then used the results to produce a video which shows just how you’re inviting hackers into your home, and how easy it can be for them to access your sensitive information. Disturbingly, the team were able to manipulate all of the devices tested to gain access to your home.

Researchers revealed a critical vulnerability related to the first-generation Echo’s physical design. Hackers were able to open the device up and manipulate it using a specially crafted SD card. This means that malicious actors could live stream audio from its microphone, and remotely use its services.

The video showcasing this in action, as well as advice to protect yourself, is viewable here.


Keeping Cyber Criminals At Bay

While the findings are terrifying, there are things that buyers can do to protect themselves.  VpnMentor have compiled a list of recommendations to protect users from becoming an easy target:

– Always research a product, and any existing security threats to it, before you buy.

It makes sense to know about any potential weaknesses – and it goes without saying, only buy your smart gadget from an officially certified source – avoid the classifieds.

– Be aware of any signs of physical intervention with the product.

If the packaging shows signs of tampering, beware.

– Directly address the seller if you or someone else has identified any major misconfiguration.

Make sure your smart device is properly configured and regularly updated.

– Keep your externally facing smart devices on a separate network.

Ariel Hochstadt, co-founder of vpnMentor, commented:

“If you are going to introduce smart technology into your home, it is important that you remain attentive with your devices to ensure that only those you trust have access. By following our set of simple rules you can ensure the best security practices have been met and saving you from becoming an easy target for crime.”

For more information on cybersecurity, and how to make sure your devices are protected, you can read the full vpnMentor guide here. You can also watch their video investigation here to see how one unsuspecting family was affected after their devices were hacked.